No matter what country her family was living in at the time, Longteine “Nyep” De Monteiro—the wife of a Cambodian diplomat—always heard the same thing when she served dinner at one of her lavish parties: “This is so good! You should open a restaurant!” It wasn't until the rise of the Khmer Rouge forced Longteine and her family to relocate to America that she began to seriously entertain the idea. Longteine finally opened The Elephant Walk in 1991, where she filled the menu with a mélange of her favorite Cambodian and French recipes.
Since then, Longteine’s daughter Nasda and her son-in-law Gerard Lopez helped her expand The Elephant Walk to three locations. All three Elephant Walks separate their kitchens into French and Cambodian preparation lines, each staffed with chefs adept at both traditional and contemporary dishes. Each dish makes meticulous use of flavorful, wholesome ingredients such as ripe plum tomatoes, fresh tuna, Vermont goat cheese, and organic tofu. The Elephant Walk also serves up a host of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free variants.
The Elephant Walk loves to feed the mind as much as the mouth. During its regularly scheduled Cafe Science series, Brandeis professors deliver compelling lectures on a variety of topics from the Large Hadron Collider to explaining why science alone cannot turn water into chocolate milk. The restaurant has since given upwards of $200,000 to local, national, and international nonprofit organizations fighting poverty.
Family-sized platters emerge from the kitchen alongside individual portions of familiar Italian entrees, entering into a petite but lavishly dressed dining room that the Hudson Reporter referred to as "one of those quality places that doesn’t intimidate you" in a 2011 feature. The menu's selection boasts housemade ravioli, grilled Atlantic salmon, and cuts of veal in one of the chefs' hearty sauces. To accompany meals, Buon Appetito also stocks its cellar with wines from across Italy and California, including fruit-forward reds and refreshing whites that are chilled to their ideal drinking temperatures inside of an igloo.
The dining room maintains a welcoming yet refined ambience, with black linens draped over every table, a ceiling lined with small crystal chandeliers, and walls filled with vibrantly colored vintage advertisements. Buon Appetito's delicatessen fulfills a separate gastronomic purpose, plying visitors with cheeses, sausages, and imported Italian foods instead of fully prepared entrees.
Judy Rosenberg didn’t set out to be an award-winning chef or an NPR-lauded cookbook author. The owner of Rosie’s Bakery found her calling in 1974 after attending art school and gobbling desserts at some of New York’s finest bakeries, becoming inspired to forge her own batch of sweets. When the staff of a local cheesecake shop got hooked on her homemade cookies, she knew she’d found a recipe for success. Since then, she’s expanded her culinary repertoire to include fudge-nut brownies, bavarian-cream fruit tarts, and more than 14 types of muffins and scones.
Each recipe teems with real, old-fashioned ingredients, such as butter, cream, sugar, and edible monocles. Cakes come in circular layers and rectangular sheets, boasting flavors such as carrot and mocha. Filled with snickerdoodles and chocolate-chip rounds, the cookie lineup conjures more childhood memories than a psychiatrist who rides to work in an ice-cream truck.
Mediterranean Grill’s kitchen fires up traditional Mediterranean cuisine, crafting kebabs of seared lamb, beef, or chicken threaded with onions and peppers. Appetizers include creamy hummus, grape leaves stuffed with rice and veggies, and the mediterranean platter loaded with olives, grilled sausage, dolmas, and cheese pie, a combination of treats that most Santas prefer over cookies and milk.
The oldest civilizations flourished around the Mediterranean Sea, likely because the water provided secret salts that improved the flavor of their food. For $20, you get $40 worth of classy Mediterranean cuisine and drinks at Ariadne Restaurant & Bar in Newtonville, named a Best New Restaurant in 2003 by Boston Magazine and just a 15-minute drive west of Boston. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
Newton native Jonathan Glick is the creative mind behind Jonathan's Bar & Grille. He designed the menu and the physical space to be both upscale and welcoming. To that end, Jonathan juxtaposes unassuming foods such as chicken, beef, and lobster sliders with higher-end dishes such as a hand-cut Angus sirloin steak with crispy Yukon potatoes and housemade steak sauce. Brunch, lunch, and dinner plates pair nicely with cocktails. An example is the Hot & Dirty martini, which owes its heat to pepperoncini juice, Tabasco sauce, and blue cheese-stuffed olives carved into the shape of whomever is on the cover of People. Jonathan's also serves a fine selection of wines by the glass or bottle and bottled and tap beers.
Circular, red lampshades overhead and a metallic-bead room divider give the space an elegant, modern feel, the centerpiece being a large, four-sided social bar with several high-definition TVs. Live entertainment occasionally resounds throughout low-lit, high-ceilinged interior.